Virginia’s 2015 Libertarian Bills

283996_10150239890381651_2358105_nA guest piece from Charles Frohman

For the second year in a row the grassroots organization Our America Initiative (OAI) found in Virginia’s legislature the good bills – those that restrain government power and honor personal liberty –  that need your support before adjournment later this month.  Below I’ll share how you can send an email to get your opinion registered before the state legislature closes down for the year.

Admittedly some of these bills already have passed or been defeated, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send an email to get your opinions heard.  If your email is the last thing your representative or senator reads before locking the Richmond office, he or she will remember the unfinished business for next year.

Our America Initiative divided the supported-bills among five categories:  (1) cutting taxes and red tape (regulations); (2) rolling back over-criminalization; (3) expanding choices in education and health; (4) respecting personal liberty; and (5) opening and limiting government power.  Each category is described below.

On the first category Our America Initiative listed bills to study moving away from taxation of income and businesses, as well as cutting our corporate rate.  With eleven states raising sufficient revenue from sales or property values, there’s no reason for Virginia to let other states steal our businesses because we’re too greedy with the citizens’ money.  On regulations we support bills to exempt from inspection food sold directly by farmers to customers.  Requirements to install industrial kitchens to sell homemade dishes or raw milk limits healthful options for families looking for local, superior options.  Two constitutional amendments made the list, one to allow the right to work and another to allow majority votes in the Assembly to strike burdensome regulations.

The second category has some chance since Republicans are facing remorse for their unreasonable “tough-on-crime” hyperbole and carte blanche gifts to the Security State.  Bills include ones to respect the 4th amendment’s prohibition on searches without warrants, forbid asset forfeiture by police until a defendant has exhausted all appeals, prohibit arrest quotas, and study how to reverse the over-criminalization epidemic.  Other bills would require bureaucracies to use the police for enforcement actions instead of creating their own SWAT teams; clarify the sheriffs’ role as a locality’s top enforcement officer; impose regulations on privatized, local cops; raise the reckless driving speed to 85 mph; and end the prohibition on the cannabis and hemp plants (the prohibition of which are the driving force for the over-criminalization disease).

While Common Core and ObamaCare merely piled on national rules to already over-regulated education and health markets, Virginia’s politicians have introduced at least a few bills that achieve OAI’s goal to grant parents more choices in both areas.  One bill would prohibit local school boards from blocking charter choices for parents dissatisfied with their required, local government school, and another bill would block the Common Core federalization of state K-12 standards.  Health freedom bills include one to allow unregulated direct access to local farm food; another to disclose when a product has been genetically modified; a third to allow self-selecting states to replace ObamaCare with an interstate compact to regulate the health market; one allowing dying patients to access drugs that haven’t completed FDA safety reviews; a bill expanding diseases qualifying for doctor-recommended marijuana; and a bill immunizing good samaritans helping over-dose victims.

A smorgasbord of bills made it onto the “Respecting Personal Liberty” category of OAI-supported bills in Virginia’s legislature.  Most would also address the over-criminalization epidemic, by stopping government searches of property without having to get a judge first to issue a warrant identifying what needs to be searched and why.  Other bills would compensate victims of government sterilization crimes in the 20th century; return voting rights to felons who’ve served their time; grant provisional licenses to those refusing DUI road tests; and propose an amendment to clarify the 2nd Amendment prohibition on government interference with the right to armed defense.

The final category of supported-bills includes those that open the government to scrutiny and limits its power.  Two bills would limit the ability of the dominant Parties (Republican and Democrat) to keep out competition from third parties – thus giving voters the choices polls show they demand.  Other bills include those to forbid bureaucrat actions that violate notice requirements; forbid public universities from ignoring Freedom of Information Act requests; limit the revolving door between government employment and working for government contractors; reduce budget gimmicks in spending bills; and call for a constitutional convention but for only amendments that limit government spending or power.

Our America Initiative didn’t capture all the libertarian-leaning bills in these five categories, and not all of the bills on the list are without some risk to liberty.  When you could click here (http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/), then, to get the email address of your state representative and senator, and email them the OAI handout (https://www.ouramericainitiative.com/virginia.html), feel free to emphasize the bills you believe are most important to liberty.  With adjournment later this month or in March, now is the time to show our Virginia politicians that a constituency exists not just for handouts, but also for personal responsibility.

Charles Frohman directs grassroots for www.OurAmericaInitiative, a 501(c)4 chaired by Governor Gary Johnson to advocate libertarian changes in the law, nationally and through the organization’s 50 state affiliates.  After earning a B.A. in Government in 1988 from the College of William and Mary, Frohman went on to work for members of Congress, financial trade associations, the Cato Institute, and, later as a sole proprietor with a large number of small nonprofit clients as well as one of the nation’s largest security guard companies.  For a few years he tried his hand at teaching high school history, earning his M.Ed. in 2010 from the George Washington University.  Residing in Williamsburg, Virginia, Frohman grew up in Suffolk and also is a certified kundalini yoga teacher.

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